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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 08-22-2010, 12:31 PM
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Hi again everybody
I am so frustrated with my lawyer. She is not listening to me and the warnings I gave her about my ex and his lawyer have all come true - they have done exactly what I said they would do. I have already spent a lot of money, time's a wasting, and she has not filed a motion yet. She keeps talking about how nice my ex's lawyer is, and how she is trying to be reasonable, and they just sent an offer asking for 100% of my income in support (not 50, not 75, 100%)!
If we are starting negotiations at that point then this will go nowhere.
My ex doesn't want to settle because he doesn't have to. He is not picking up the kids (just had to talk him into a little visit today after he hadn't seen them for a week) and still running up the credit cards, etc. He is trying to be unreasonable to run up my bill and get his own way.
My lawyer knows he is abusive (she has heard him acting like Mel Gibson), knows his name is still on title to the house and he is not looking after his kids, hiding his finances, stealing etc. yet she still wants to negotiate. She has given me no advice on possible outcomes except "I can't guarantee this" and "I can't guarantee that". Not advice worth hundreds of dollars an hour imo.
I went to court a couple of years ago (he served me) and the judge told him he was full of it and recommended he move out and give me the equity in the house. Duty counsel has told me I am capable of doing this myself and I think I am wasting my time and money on a lawyer. My family is pressuring me to use one but they haven't been "in the system" themselves so they are just nervous. I know my case better than I could explain to a lawyer, and if I have to type it out for them to regurgitate to a judge, then why am I paying them? Furthermore I don't think he has disclosed anything to his lawyer, from the positions she is taking. There is a lot of equity at stake, so my suspicion is the lawyers are colluding to drag this out. So my question is, those who settled their case, (not those who are still in the middle) is if you had to do it all over again would you use a lawyer or would you do it yourself, and how much did you have to spend to settle? What exactly can a lawyer do that a layman can't do with the help of FLIC ?
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:05 PM
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Use a lawyer with discretion. It's easy to say after you've been through the ringer that you could have done it yourself, but not so easy whilst in the midst of the process, especially when children are involved.

The lawyer knows the road you are travelling (particularly the Rules of Civil Procedure) and you are emotionally caught up in the matter so you could easily trip up on a technical rule and/or your emotional investment could cause you to take the wrong strategic step.

You are the boss. Take the lawyer's advice with grain of salt knowing her first priority is to make money. When you sniff delays, direct your lawyer to push the matter towards trial. NO more pussyfooting around with dumb ass go nowhere letters back and forth.
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:32 PM
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Thanks DTTE not really what I wanted to hear but I suppose you are right. I will have to get pushier with her. Ironically, my ex when he settled with his ex years ago settled with lawyers and in about 2 weeks. The only difference was they were both on legal aid. I guess when the lawyers aren't getting paid very much and the government's footing the bill, they can settle in a hurry when they want to! The problem is the only "stick" you can use is to threaten to fire them and it's not good to change lawyers. Does anyone know any other techniques to deal with them? I really feel like I am not in control and that's what's stressing me, and I am already stressed dealing with my ex (especially watching him drain my bank account!).
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:18 PM
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As much as possible go through the receptionist/assistant. They don't bill you, they get paid by the hour. They can't give you legal advice but they can tell you what forms need to be filled out, what has been received, when something is due etc. Any smaller question or issue go through them. Also pass instructions on to your lawyer through them as much as possible, talk to the assistant and leave explicit instructions, send email through the assistant etc. Don't communicate directly through your lawyer over every minor question, they bill you by the minute.

For larger issues make an appointment with your lawyer through the assistant for a phone consultation. Don't call your lawyer directly and get billed for phone tag. Don't expect your lawyer to pick up the phone and answer your question in the middle of the day. Make an appointment and have a list of issues on paper in front of you, go through the list item by item, control the agenda, cut him off when he is talking too much and keep the conversation on topic. Ask specific questions, not general ones like How is it going? Have a clock in front of you and and keep the conversation within your limit, not his, and write down the answers you need. If you notice that you aren't writing down the answers, it's because the lawyer is dancing around the question. Learn to keep the conversation on topic and cut through the clutter. You don't have to be polite with your lawyer, he doesn't have to like you, you just have to be direct about what you want.

On at least one occasion be clear with your lawyer that you are the one getting divorced, not him, the issues affect your life, not his, you will make the decisions, not him, you have to come to a settlement with your ex, he cannot come to a settlement with your ex's lawyer. Also say these things to yourself and believe in them.

Decide what your steps are, what you will try next, what your next offer or response is. Make your own agenda. Decide how much time/money you will spend on each step before you drop and move to the next. Decide what you can afford and how long you can wait. Then make explicit instructions to you lawyer what you want done now and how much time and money you are willing to spend on it. If you aren't sure what your next step is, ask here or ask your lawyer, but stay in control of how long/how much.

Be firm and be assertive and your lawyer should start to work with you on a different level. Above all remember that you make the decisions, you will make informed decisions, your lawyer is a primary but not only source of that information.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:23 PM
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I can offer no words of legal experience as I'm not that far along in the process myself, but I noticed a few words go by in your post that I can make suggestions on.

You said he's running up the credit card and draining your bank account? Get those closed right away! Open your own bank account and get your own credit card, and close all those joint accounts or take your name off or whatever they will let you do. Take half the funds according to the balance that existed on your separation date and leave the rest for him. Pay all your bills, of course, but don't give him access to any discretionary money you may earn anymore.
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:56 PM
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Thanks everybody
I would separate the finances but the problem is everything hasn't been settled and he is still on title. He comes in the house if he knows I am away and takes stuff - this is why I wanted to separate things to start with, to get him off title first but my lawyer wouldn't do it. Now I assume she knows what she's doing but in the meantime I can't poke the bear too much or I will have to involve police etc. which is bad for the kids. Money is my ex's #1 flashpoint - it is an illness with him how angry he gets over financial issues. He sees it as a sign of disloyalty in a woman not to share money (due to his upbringing with mother and sister etc.).
So he will not settle out of court likely, he has refused mediation and wants a ridiculous financial settlement. His lawyer has personal ties with him, knows his finances and his families' , and is probably trying to milk them for fees. I have told all this to my lawyer but she has not called them out on anything and has not moved forward when I have asked her to.
Good points Mess - I have done all that and she is actually very efficient, professional office, returns calls promptly so no complaints there. She just isn't filing. I think my ex is trying to set up a bogus disability claim (he has been turned down twice - now his lawyer is saying she will send him to a doctor she knows will say he is psychologically incapable of working). Which is not good news for me because then his income will be zero. which I also warned her about, another reason not to delay .
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:41 PM
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Regardless if things are settled or not, you can and should still be seperating your finances. Close out the joint accounts or have your name removed from them, cancel any credit cards in your name that he's using. You don't have to have him removed from the title of the house to have your accounts separated - if you choose NOT to separate your accounts than you're basically consenting to the debts he's incurring in your name and you'll have a VERY difficult time later getting out of them. Why put yourself in an even worse position?
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:38 AM
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You should have some legal advisor! Yes they are money vaccuums but you have to be clear what you want and stick to it.

Don't let this lawyer do stupid things.

Have a plan and don't settle for the wishy washy answers you get.

Separate your finances like someone else said.
Get you name off as much as possible that you could be held financially responsible for ( credit cards, line of credit etc... )
Get your own bank account.
Establish who should pay what and in proper propartions based on you incomes.

Sign up for this as well...

Ontario divorce laws - mini-course

Best of luck.
TD
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Old 10-24-2010, 10:39 AM
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The only difference was they were both on legal aid. I guess when the lawyers aren't getting paid very much and the government's footing the bill, they can settle in a hurry when they want to!

Gumby, I feel greatly for your situation as it so closely relates to my own. I have been on legal aid and let me tell you it's no greater process to finding a solution. I had a legal aid lawyer on my case for a year and half with no results not one court appearance. I am now having to go this alone because here in Petawawa when you are in Superior Court your SOL for legal help or legal aid clinics advice. They don't support it. The only way you on your own will get advice is if you pay a lawyer or remain in family court. Call your local court house and ask for duty councel or free legal clinics.

There are many stall tactics and adversarial techniques both your ex and his lawyer will be able to take and get away with. Be careful going it alone. Take it from this mom who is. You need someone to have your back girl. I would if I could but I can't protect my own. Try to sit down with your lawyer and tell her/him point blank "I'm the client, your lawyer. I'm pay for your service. You do as I instruct while protecting my children and my own best instrests." Trust me 'being nice' gets you no where in this process. That's what I have been doing and it's a dead end. Baring your lawyer listening to you, report him/her to the Upper Law Society with a formal complaint.

As for finances, they realy need to be split from one another. Get your own accounts. Protect yourself and your children at all costs. I agree that he's just trying to take you for a ride. It may be that he still has feelings for you somewhere deep down but he needs to grow up and own up for what's best for the family unit especially your sweet children.

I am so sorry for the frustrations and hard times you are going through now. I wish you all the best.

Last edited by MamaDM; 10-24-2010 at 10:42 AM. Reason: typos correction
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:53 PM
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You will have a hard time getting the other partner off the title until it is ordered off, and this most likely won't happen until the other issues such as custody and support are dealt with.

You may need to get an order for exclusive possession so that you can prevent the the former partner from going into the house.

Even if your ex gets a doctor saying he can't work, a judge can still impute a salary to him.

As everyone has said, you need to separate your finances.
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